KAYSVILLE — Amanda Nieforth has become keenly aware that she will be graduating from Syracuse High School in a few months, and is starting to worry because she doesn’t have a plan after graduation.
Nieforth, 17, struggles with an autistic disorder and she wasn’t sure what options were available to her, so she attended Davis School District’s special education transition fair this week to start making some plans.
“I’m a little lost about my future, so this fair has been really helpful so I can get some ideas so I won’t freak out so much,” Nieforth said.
Helping out people like Nieforth is why the Davis School District hosted its fifth annual fair at Davis Applied Technology College in Kaysville.
“We all recognize that everyone needs some help planning for their future. A lot of times we hope for the best and that they will pick it up, but from a practical sense, students have better post-high school success if we help them plan early,” said Adam King, special education coordinator in Davis School District.
The purpose of the fair was to help students who are transitioning from high school to post-secondary education, employment and independent living. In past years, the fair has been packed, drawing more than 400 people last year. However, due to the snowstorm on Thursday, that number was about half this year, but King was still happy with the turnout.
“There are so many services and support groups out there, and it’s hard to know about them, so we provide a one-stop shopping atmosphere to reach out to all levels of disabilities since there is such a wide spectrum,” King said.
Attending the fair turned out to be a turning point for 18-year-old Alex Byrne of South Weber. He is hoping to graduate this year and pursue a career in law enforcement.
“The fair made me realize that I need to work harder to get to my goal and that there are people here to help me get there,” Byrne said, after speaking to a vocational rehabilitation counselor from the state of Utah, one of the many agencies in attendance at the fair.
Deb Jenson, who is the volunteer coordinator for the Special Olympics in Utah, said a lot of people are unaware that their children qualify for such opportunities.
“We serve athletes with intellectual disabilities, so we are here to offer opportunities for them to participate in athletic competition,” Jenson said.
Many disabilities are not well known, but those individuals can also receive help from the agencies that serve transitioning students. Tammy Naylor, the Davis County coordinator for Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Utah, said her organization has attended the fair all five years.
“It is very fulfilling to help other people and point them in the right direction. I’ve been there myself having a son with ADHD, and have compassion for what they’re going through so I’m here to help educate them on the right path to take,” Naylor said.
The Hopson family from Layton is all-too familiar with the struggles of ADHD. Khy Hopson, 16, said he and his parents struggle with the disability, but his parents have taught him to work through it to be successful. He attended the fair with his dad and was grateful for the experience.
“I want to know what is available for me out of high school so I’m not clueless,” said Hopson.
King says it is important for families to get a practical plan in place to help prepare for the future.